Thursday, August 30, 2012

Compensation 1: We ALL Walk with a "Feminine" Wound

A wound to the psyche often causes the same response as a wound to the body: compensation.  For example, if you severely injure an ankle, the connective tissue and fascia in that area will remold around the trauma, trying to compensate for the damage.  You may begin to walk a little differently, to favor the other side ever so slightly.  If this keeps up, over time your posture will change.  Whole new patterns of maintaining your structure will emerge as bones, soft tissues, and tendons realign themselves.
The Dance of a Dissident Daughter, pg 42
~ Sue Monk Kidd 

Series Note:  Read the first two installments: #1 and #2

I love that Sue uses the physical body as an illustration.  I so get this - being in the Fitness and Wellness world.  For me, I translate the above into this: when there is a wound in the psyche, it learns to compensate - to "walk" in a different way as to mask the wound - until eventually the wounded person does not even consciously realize they are "walking" with a limp anymore.  This is just part of their "gait", their "balance", their "posture".

Funny, really - perhaps a bit ironic that it took God giving me a real life, tangible wound that makes me physically compensate all over the place to finally break me down enough to see how I've been compensating in a very different way...all of my life.

I took time to write some of those compensations down last night.  Some of them you already saw in my last post.

A new one came to me just now: Being a Christian woman, I was always afraid to identify or relate or even consider relating to woman outside the church that embodied the more feminine side.  You know the ones - the ones that just ooze femininity as being "mother earth", embracing their sensuality and their feminine sexuality.  Somehow -in my mind - they sided more with the view of "Victoria Secret"- yet without crossing over the line.  Somehow they skirted both the Church's and Society's view of who women should be and fully claimed for themselves what "woman is".  These ladies frightened me and threatened my Christianity while at the same time I could feel a longing in my soul to be able to let go of my tightly zipped-up femininity and "dance free" as they were.  Unfortunately, in reality, I was suppressing my own femininity in order to embrace the more "masculine" side - which is what predominantly was displayed to me in our Churches.  I felt this was more "Christian-like" and therefore more "God-like".

In all of the this, the hardest thing to swallow now is how I just - hook, line and sinker - bought into the notion of the role of women in the Hierarchy* view.  Not only did I buy into it...but I could "lovingly" share with other women how this was such a "beautiful" view of womanhood, upholding our God-given status and nature, yada, yada, yada.  It really makes me get a little - okay a lot nauseous to my tummy now to think about how I urgently defended this view.

I am not sure why, when I have a nature to question everything...why I just never stopped to question my new found faith in God nor the Church's teachings in so many areas.  I can only go back to the notion that I was conditioned by culture, by society to believe this was the way life was to be for women.  So, while I had always been told by society I was an equal, my subconscious picked up on the subliminal messages in culture that said otherwise.

Looking at it that way, I guess it makes sense as to why I bought into the Church's traditional view of females.  I think it breaks down into something along these lines - progressing from 1-4 and then some:

#1 Outside the church I found an imbalance, a discrepancy in the way culture viewed women.  This led to...

#2 The discrepancy: That while the women's liberation movement was complete and women were declared equal in verbiage - a great portion of society still did not LIVE OUT the verbiage that all humans - men and women - were created equal.  There was a subliminal message here.  This led to...

#3 How I was allowed to buy into the fact, verbally speaking and on a conscious level - I was an equal...yet on a subconscious level I felt and acted inferior.  This led to...

#4 My subconscious thought patterns finding a home in the Hierarchy view...and I felt "at peace".

Agh Ha!  This is how I bought into the Church's message that women and men are equals - but that when they fight against their Traditional Gender Roles, they are fighting against their God-given roles of distinction and God-given roles of order.  My subconscious believed in the subliminal message (from the culture) that my role was really defined by and in relation to men - especially THE man in my life - my husband.  This message could NOT find rest in culture because the culture wasn't preaching was the Church that preached this.  Thus,

Stated another way: the problem I had been running into was not that I wasn't considered an equal...but that in culture I wasn't allowed to live out my God-given role as a woman.  Culture was telling me to go out and conquer the world - yet implying that I should still do that with all the JUNE CLEAVER responsibilities of the home.

On the other hand, the Church was telling me that conquering the world was never in my DNA...and that is why I wasn't satisfied.  The Church was telling me that I should want to stay home and raise a family and find my identity in my husband.  This matched the message in my subconscious... so why should I feel a need to question that?

At least in the church I could have my equality AND cling to the notion that I wasn't fully able to take responsibility for my life because I wasn't fully human because I wasn't a man.  (Seriously, this is hard to wrap my mind around how I bought into this - or any of us do...but we do)  In the Church, I was allowed to revert back to the post-fall "ideals" of being Susie-homemaker and "pining" or desiring after my husband.  I wasn't challenged to explore my talents nor my gifts...but pushed to cultivate secondary gifts that help to support men and a "happy" home.

Only now can I see that just as a cyclical abusive pattern in a relationship is almost always based on patriarchy and the need to have one person remain on top - this form of relating also strives to kill not only the soul of both parties involved - but the physical body as well.

To be continued...

* Hierarchy - I heard this term by one of the contributors of How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership.  I have to agree that this is a better term than Complementarism - because in reality we ALL truly do complement others in our small sphere of the world.  We are not islands in and of ourselves...but we need one another in order to compliment the others' gifts and to paint the broad, huge picture of balance that is our God.  So, the word "complementarism" is really - I feel - a ploy to get us to believe they are for equality.  What the real nuts and bolts of this view of the Bible teaches is patriarchy...the hierarchal structure of society with white men at the top and every one else down below.

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